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Peanut Butter & Chocolate Energy Bars

Makes 15 bars

1 1/2 cups unsalted peanuts
1 1/2 cups pitted dried dates, preferably Medjool
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate or mini chocolate chips, divided

Line an 8-inch x 8-inch baking pan with parchment paper; let the ends of the paper hang over the edge.

Optional step: For deeper, more peanuty flavor, roast the peanuts before making the bars. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the peanuts on a baking sheet and roast until fragrant and golden, 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once or twice during roasting. Allow to cool slightly before continuing with the recipe.

Combine the peanuts, pitted dates, and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 5 to 6 times to break up the ingredients. Remove the lid and break apart any clumps of dates. Replace the lid and process continuously for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes until the ingredients begin to clump together. When you remove the lid, the ingredients may still look a little crumbly (like couscous), but should hold together when pressed in your fist.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the chocolate over the peanut-date mixture (reserve the rest of the chocolate). Replace the lid and pulse just 3 or 4 times to incorporate the chocolate.

Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and press it firmly down with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a drinking cup. Melt the remaining 1/2 cup of chocolate chips in 15-second bursts in the microwave, stirring between each burst. Pour the melted chocolate over the bars and use a spatula to spread it into an even layer.

Cover the bars and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight, until the bars are firm and the chocolate is set. With the bars still in the dish, use a sharp knife to cut them into 15 bars. Bars can be stored in the dish or individually wrapped. Keep refrigerated for firmer texture or unrefrigerated for a softer texture. Bars will keep for about a month refrigerated or for about a week if unrefrigerated.

Recipe Notes
For softer icing, stir 1/4 cup peanut butter into the melted chocolate before spreading it over the bars.

Thanks to thekitchn.com

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